Friday, February 24, 2012




I arrived early that morning with the phone lines ablaze and hurriedly answered the three blinking lights as quickly as possible. As I answered the third line I could barely get out “Please Hold” before she began speaking in a rushed desperate hysterical tone. I forced out the “please hold one moment “ while she continued to talk, took care of the other two lines that were still on hold and when I returned after a couple of minutes, I realized that she had never realized that I had left her on hold. She still spieled off words in one continuous conjecture of sentences. While I tried to understand and comprehend what she was trying to get across to me, I had to loudly interject “Slow down and take a deep breath and repeat slowly to me what you are trying to ask”. The shock from my aggressive overtone took hold and she was silent for a moment and then began to tell me her story as to why she was calling and what she wanted to have done. I could tell immediately that she had made her “hair” decision and was very ready to act immediately and wanted an appointment as soon as possible that day.

It was imperative that she got her hair done that day as there was a pending business dinner with her husband that she had to attend and did not want to go looking like a woman who had just had a baby recently. She readily explained that her pregnancy had been long and arduous which coincided with many nights of no sleep that had left her feeling unattractive and miserable. Getting an appointment was to be the miracle cure that she wanted and today was the day as her Mother was going to babysit the baby. Since she would have limited time to get a new dress and have her hair coiffed, she acted swiftly and manically.

After getting her information and hearing the desperation in her voice I made room for her appointment knowing that I would need more than a couple of hours with her in order to soothe her panic. This would be my first post pregnancy emotionally shattered mother. I would later come to realize that this same scenario would reappear over and over with all new mothers that have been deprived of sleep, personal time, husband encouragement and compliments. It was to be my first introduction into postpartum depression. At this particular time there was not a medical diagnosis name for the symptoms but it has now been diagnosed as a common problem with many post pregnancy women and has given light to a new awareness that was long overdue. Now when I am in a client situation that has all the familiarity of postpartum symptoms, my awareness allows me to have a much better understanding and sensitivity to their mood swings and inability to make decisions on their choice of style or color.

After speaking with her, I had a mental vision of what I assumed she would look like when she arrived however my mind’s picture was way off. For some reason I pictured a woman with no make-up, a little post-delivery added weight and totally unmaintained oily dark rooted hair. However what stepped out of the Mercedes was an attractive svelte young woman, who was made up to the hilt. She hardly looked like she had just had a baby and as she closed the her car door, she caught her Louis Vuitton purse in the door and was having a panic attack trying to unlock the door to free the purse. It was obvious to me that it was already adding another crisis to her day so I quickly ran out the door to help her before she melted into a tearful mess. As she struggled to pull the handle strap free from the door, I could see the tears welling up in her eyes. I came up to her and asked her to let me take care of this, surprisingly she gave in and let me release the strap caught in the shut door.

After freeing the purse I calmly shut the door and handed her the newly contorted strap and purse, to which she gratefully acknowledged a big thank you. On our way up to the salon door she dabbed at the tears that had now wet her cheeks. I could feel immediately that this was going to be more than I really had prepared for as the frustration that now surrounded her was beginning to surround me as well and the atmosphere had now changed inside the salon the moment she had entered the doors.
Carefully I scanned her being noticing how put together she was. In no way could one have ever assumed that she had just had a baby six weeks earlier. She was quite attractive with dark blond hair and a maze of frosted blond hair that blended throughout the orb that sat on her shoulders. Despite the fact the she was still wearing the shag haircut that was a duplicate of “Mrs. Brady” she was demurely put together. Her rich navy blue Bobbie Brooks slack suit was pristinely pressed down to the stitched seam on her pants. The low heeled matching shoes coordinated with her overall look and made the statement that her trousseau was filled with a Saks Fifth Avenue aura. She held her petite framed body upright and the spring in her step showed me that this was going to be a no nonsense woman who had a goal to reach. I realized more fully at that moment that I was going to represent the final touch-down; I just was not sure how to maneuver the field goal yet.

I took her back to my styling chair and as she turned facing the mirror my eyes locked dead on to the most piercing golden eyes that seemed to latch on to my very core being. I found myself staring into them as if I was being hypnotized with each second that passed. She began speaking in the same desperation as she had on the phone earlier that morning. Luckily it broke the spell of visual intensity and I asked her to please stay calm as it would not help her to be so frantic. Softly I pressed my hands upon her shoulders and tried to reiterate in my own words what I had pieced together from the information that had been desperately spoken. As I tried to speak she frequently tried to interrupt me but I did not give in to her attempts. By the time I had finished speaking I saw that she had given in to allowing me to speak and I could tell that I had made a connection with her. She agreed that it was time to banish the “Shag” haircut and to treat the darkness that had grown out. We discussed some haircut ideas but she had nothing definite except to want to stand out at the evening affair that was planned for later that evening with her husband. I took a chance and asked her how daring she really wanted to be and if she wanted to risk a completely new look as I had already concluded in my mind what I truly wanted to create. She stopped and started to speak a couple of times and then blurted out that she would let me do what I thought was best, and finished, of course those lasting words ”As Long As I Look Good”. Those fleeting words that stylists always hate to hear from clients, as if we love to create UGLY.

I sent her off to change into a dressing gown so that I would not get anything on her clothes and I began my color preparations. When I returned she seemed very relaxed and as she sipped on her cup of coffee we began the conversation that would spill the details on the outline of her life. This has always been my favorite part of a new client situation because within five minutes of conversed information I can determine the personality that I am going to be dealing with. Those newly revealed sentences set the boundaries of communication as well as determining just how much freedom I can have with the client. Those first few minutes of connecting will always be my guide to the future of client retention.

It was apparent that I had scored a touchdown so far as she began to open up with her conversation as I began the coloring process on her hair. Within the first twenty five minutes I knew how old she was, when she got married, what her husband did for work and how she was ill prepared for motherhood and she flatly told me that she did not feel she was cut out to be a mother. She explained that she did not even feel bad for leaving her newborn that morning and that she was not looking forward to having to return to her home and deal with the baby again. Selfishly she made it clear that she had no time to herself anymore and missed not sleeping later. Due to a lot of traveling in his work her husband did not seem to want to help much. Marriage was not what she expected and it was beginning to be clear to me that being a Mother was not what she expected either. As she spoke I could feel that something was missing within her demeanor to feel or hear what she was saying to me. When she asked me if I thought that she was a complete “bitch” I interjected that I did not think that she was, but I did feel that she needed to research her emotions and try to find the time when everything seemed to split apart. At that point her cold stare gave me a twinge of uncertainty that I may have stepped over her line, but then she replied that she never would have thought of doing that and that the advice would be well taken. As for being the right thing to do, I really had no clue, I just instinctively knew that at one time there must have been a happier time when her life would have competed with Cinderella’s at the ball.

It seemed to me that it was hard for her to keep from talking as she spoke continuously while I continued to do my color work. In between bated breaths she would expound on an alternate topic that was not on the same track as we had been talking. As quickly as she jumped the conversing track we had been on she would jump back and pick up the talk as if she had never left the track. I found it hard to be able to say much due to the frantic pace at which she spoke. I would truly have to say that she was not aware of half of what she was saying and just seemed to vent her frustrations. It became very clear that her home situation was very tense due to the changes that had occurred with the baby’s arrival.

Her assessment of her family life was not a pretty one despite acknowledging that she never had to worry about anything and that money was never going to be a problem for her. She was able to spend as she pleased, yet because of that, she felt lost and empty. She had never held a job and just went from her childhood home, into marriage and now a child had added the extra pressure that she was not ready to fulfill. I spoke in sensitive terms and told her that I felt that time would make things better as the baby would soon be sleeping through the night and more time with her husband would come as the baby got a few months older. She turned a deaf ear to what I had just said to her and made absolutely no response back except to elaborate further on how miserable she felt.

I continued my work and decided that I should just dedicate the rest of the conversation to making her feel secure about the changes I had started to do with her hair. Encouragingly I continued to speak in positive overtones that were directed at the unhappy ego that surrounded her. It was obvious that the more I focused my attention directly about her, the intense aura she came in with slowly started to fade away. I could feel my demeanor start to change toward her and knew that we had made some kind of connection that had yet to be determined.

The color processing and a couple of self-directed hours of conversation finalized with the new haircut would further open the “insecure” door that she constantly opened during our previous hours of conversation. I had made the decision to update her haircut to the trendy new wedge haircut that had been popularized by the Olympic skater, Dorothy Hamill. Jackie’s hair texture and natural movement was very well suited for that style. I felt instinctively that haircut would supersede her expectations and would create the complimentary sensation that she most assuredly wanted. The illumination of the new blond color streaks and the line and movement would make for quite a stunning hair renovation. As I did my work I kept her turned away from the mirror as I did not want to deal with image insecurity as I applied the color and wrapped the foil. Any woman who has a color process criticizes herself for the way she looks during such a process and I already had enough of her insecurity resonating from my styling chair.

When I completed my cutting and the blow-dry I carefully turned her chair to face the mirror and expected the worst scenario to happen. You could have stabbed at the tense air as it was so thick of fear and trepidation…….I watched as her eyes filled with tears and awaited the worst, however the worst never appeared……quite the contrary. The tears that fell were tears of joy and appreciation that I had made her look and feel better and she knew that she would once again receive the compliments that had been elusive for too long. She quickly stood up and pulled me close to her and gave me one hell of a hug. I was taken aback and completely surprised by her responsive action and happiness. As the hug subsided she began to shower me with appreciative feedback.

She pulled herself together and retreated to the changing room and I stood there almost stoned from the accolades that she bestowed on me from doing her hair. I had to assimilate the whole situation and knew that I had jumped the moon and I would know soon enough just how happy I had made her. The continual bevy of compliments continued while she pulled herself together to leave and while she paid her tab. Just as I had thought it was done, I came around from the back of the reception desk and once again she grabbed me once more for one last hug. Her hug felt appreciative and her arms told me that she had not had a male respond back for quite a while. I innocently hugged her back as tightly, and crossed a line that I had no idea had been drawn.

She waltzed out of the shop a very happy person and I could tell her attitude had been realigned. I felt proud of what I had done and to have completed an absolutely exhausting client situation. I was unaware of the consequences that came from making a connection with her. It would become a relationship that I could never have been prepared for. Unbeknown to me, she was at the top of a mentally exhaustive mountain and had no idea that she was about to take a free-fall into the valley of post-partum depression, and all who were drawn into her vortex would suffer the unjust consequences of her unstable mental state.

None of us had a clue that demons danced within this beautiful human being, yet we all would soon learn her many sides and would be privy to what emotions can do to a person who has split from reality. At this point of my life, I was still very naive when it came to understanding the complexity of her condition and found myself involved even though I did not pursue the relationship. She, on the other hand, had begun to build a fantasy scenario the day after she left my salon. Looking back, I try to recall any little piece of information that I may have missed, yet nothing turns up and I cringe at how easily I was led into what would become a very one sided unrequited illusion of love on her part.

Monday, February 6, 2012


It was at this salon that I would transcend into the “shear” madness that would forever shape my career. I learned to utilize the innate ability to feel out any client insecurity, special needs and to totally listen and perceive the situation that I would be embarking on. Paying close attention to their conversations opened up communication that often lead to psychological insecurities and emotional road blocks.
On very rare occasions those road blocks became impassable, yet the adventures leading up to those blocks were astounding. The reasons and the rhymes of those delusional insecure mindsets would become the stepping stones to understanding just how much mind energy it took in a day to smooth out the clients porous hair as well as their disheveled personality. There was always a sense of completion at the end of the day, yet it was emotionally exhausting and would tend to make me unsociable in the evening just trying to regain my own mental composure.

These first experiences of diva client privileges began my journey to the styling chair of client T"HAIR"apy. It was not just the hair that would need special attention. No matter what you would apply to the hair for control, it became very apparent that I also had to control and smooth their crowded, unhappy, insecure mind. The insecurities that fell out of them spilled around me like rain water, only I was the gutter that channeled it to a different direction of mindset.
Just listening and letting out sympathy from my heart would be the encouragement they needed to unleash more of their sadness. The privileged information came at no price to me as I never charged them for advice but they would hand over the money freely and happily and always eagerly awaited their next appointment to continue their stories.
Many women and men felt open to me and all their life stories would blanket me daily. I would learn more from these people than anyone could have ever imagined. This International House of Hairdom held within its doors my pathway to human fragility and loneliness. The hallways echoed the cries of convex conversations which were turned inward and I seemed to provide them with a straighter path to move forward. My gift of conversation and genuine interest brought the clients to me and they would leave a mark in my heart and create the vast amount of information that I possess to this day.

My stay at this salon was enlightening and informative. My new clients lead the way to the success that was noticed and soon I had been given the opportunity to relocate to another elite salon that my owner had recently built. Looking back it was a blessing in disguise as the fall of the “House of Hairdom” was imminent, as the lease had ended and was not going to be renewed. The era of this salon would end and the “Euro” staff would separate and find successes elsewhere.

This former salon was to be the beginning of my awareness of how much the clients depended on me. Unbeknownst to me I was part of a hair curriculum that was not part of the cosmetology training. This syllabus would hold a psychological consequence of an amazing positive aspect. I would learn to understand just how connected to the female psyche I was becoming and the intuition I had with each and every one of them would serve me well. My career was still very new but I could sense that incredible things were about to happen. My clairvoyant ability steered me in the right direction and kept me safe when I strayed into situations that needed to be dealt with quickly.

The “International House Of Hairdom” experience provided the new horizon that I would follow and I exited those doors with a brighter tomorrow. Taking on this new location would prove to be an exciting adventure. It was at this salon that I would meet the first of many clients that would challenge me in ways I never knew existed. Many of these new clients became like family while others would introduce me to the world of narcissistic, sociopathic insecure Clairol Christians. These clients were the most dangerous and most challenging.
No matter how you played out your appointment scenario you were never able to move beyond their total consuming "ME" syndrome. You could spend hours with these ladies and they would never walk away happy and then you would reap the pain of many repeated phone calls asking the same questions that you tried to answer with those many hours before in your T"HAIR"apy chair. Nothing would or could satisfy this type of client as they needed much more than a color process on their hair to bring them a happy demeanor. Luckily that type A personality client was rare and many, many other clients would become like a family to me. I became entwined with their lives and we shared a common ground of consistency and conversation that would be helpful to the both of us. The trust they put in me was never spoken except by their continued loyalty as a clients.

I had finally cracked the code of my responsibility to the wonderful people who would take this journey with me and who provided me with a strong grasp on reality and all that life can give you through the value of friendships. I was truly blessed by knowing each and every one who graced my styling chair. These people were the reason that forty three years later I can still be thankful for one hell of a styling career. Within my grasp was the power to make people look good and feel good. Sharing the gift of conversation only helped to make the whole experience positive for both the clients and myself.
Attached to every strand of hair was a head filled with so much information and life experiences that it would be as exhilarating as it could be debilitating.

Remembering each and every conversation and the person who was attached to it came easily for me. Somehow my mind stuck post it labels to each client and so it would come to pass that I would easily remember where we left off with our last conversation. So many people would come through my salon doors as clients and time would allow them to metamorphous into dear friends. There were people who made such an indelible mark on me as a person that it changed my awareness of many things.
The vulnerability that came from some clients desires, needs and high expectations delivered some of my career’s most amazing stories. On the other side of the fence were the wonderful clients that entered my hair kingdom and brought their trust, respect and loyalty over the years. Within the next chapters of this book, there will be actual revealing true situations with clients with whom I shared life experiences, some good, some bad, and others that were absolutely life altering. All of these situations took me to a new level of human compassion as well as understanding.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


It happened to be one of those days where there was not much to do so I decided that I would go through some old boxes of items that still had not been put away in a proper place. At the bottom of the box laid a compact disc with no writing on it and even though it appeared unused I slipped it into the computer to see what may appear on the disc. As the computer read the disc music began to flow out of the speakers and incredible flashbacks began firing off like fireworks in my mind. I recognized the people singing and all that transpired when this music was made. As the lyrics of the song played on I began to hear the words differently than before. So much time has come and gone since I last heard these tracks and the emotions that were once felt have been replaced by finality's and uncertainties.
I sit and think about the time, long ago, when this all felt magical and the music that was made ignited an excitement within that has not been felt for quite a while. I look at the screen and see it being written as I type in the script that is in black and white and realize that the lyrics of that song were justifiably right. What once was is no more and we have opened and closed the doors that once would swing both ways. It repeats the question "Is it Too Late"? This query can not be truly answered. There is no desire of communication anymore and hurt feelings get in the way of the pain that comes with remembering that past.
How could it all so easily dissipate as if there was no solid ground with which to stand on and the answer is was only a one sided relationship of convenience. As the disc continued to play, the next track said it best and once again the lyrics had taken on a new meaning. When you realize that you had been fooled by a feeling it is necessary to step aside and remove yourself from the personal opera that continued to disappoint.
Now that years have come and gone and the dreams have flitted away, my life has moved on and the colors of tomorrow no longer appear in black and white.
It is true that dreams don't lie because my dreams have moved me to the overnight sensation that continues to unfold daily. The absence of what once was is now fading from view but the void it leaves in the heart has yet to be reconciled.
I know something will come to fill the void and I will look back on those hungry years and see a new spectrum culminating from the peace of mind by having laid to rest the black and white images of what used to be.